A high-speed train crash near Philadelphia early Tuesday morning injured dozens of people, some seriously.
Passengers and other witnesses described a bloody scene as 42 people, including the conductor, were injured when an inbound Norristown High Speed Line train operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) plowed into a parked train at the 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, one of the rail’s busiest terminals, about 12:15 a.m. Tuesday.
At least four of the people taken to local hospitals were seriously injured. None of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening.
Investigators are trying to determine why the train came into the station at a high rate of speed. It’s not clear how fast the train was traveling but Upper Darby Mayor Thomas Micozzie told the press the train came into the station “hot.”
One passenger told NBC 10 Philadelphia that there were signs something wasn’t right when the train overshot two previous stops.
“I was waiting at Gulph Mills. The train came by, it blew past us about three or four train lengths, stopped, backed up, picked us up,” the passenger told NBC 10. “The same thing happened at Bryn Mawr.” SEPTA is investigating those claims and has not confirmed them.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has sent a team of investigators to start a probe.
The crash is the second major train accident at the 69th Street Terminal this year. Four people were injured in February when a SEPTA commuter train slammed into the back of another train on a loop used by trains to reverse direction. The collision caused train cars to derail and strike a third train on a nearby track.
According to NBC 10, SEPTA spokeswoman Heather Redfern said the Norristown High-Speed Line uses Automatic Train Control (ATC), a safety system that’s been used on rail lines across the country for decades.
The ATC warns a train operator when they violate a speed limit. If the operator fails to slow the train, the ATC system takes over. The technology is considered effective but it can be de-activated, as it had been on the deadly derailment of Amtrak Train 188 in Philadelphia in 2015.
After that crash, Amtrak installed Positive Train Control (PTC), which can slow or stop a train when the operator fails to slow near a stop signal or curve in the tracks.